Four plead guilty in tax-fraud case

Staff report


Four Mahoning Valley residents have pleaded guilty in a tax fraud conspiracy case the U.S. Attorney says bilked the federal government out of more than $3 million.

Steven R. Hinz of Youngstown pleaded guilty in federal court in Cleveland to tax and mortgage fraud charges.

His Friday plea followed guilty pleas by the other three defendants in the case, Patricia A. Polk and William E. Phillips III, both of Youngstown, and Heather L. English of Canfield.

U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Gaughan set their sentencings for January 2013.

Hinz promoted a scheme to defraud the government by filing false federal income tax returns claiming large tax refunds using the original issue discount process, the indictment said.

The scheme involved preparation of fictitious IRS forms that falsely reported that financial institutions, creditors and other entities had withheld large amounts of federal income tax on behalf of the defendants and other taxpayers with respect to non-existent income, the U.S. Attorney said.

The case was investigated by the IRS, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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